Yael T. Abouhalkah

Young Paul Davis visited strip club, but old Sam Brownback is ruining Kansas budget

Kansas Democratic candidate Paul Davis was at a strip club in 1998, but that shouldn’t really matter in the 2014 race against Sam Brownback.
Kansas Democratic candidate Paul Davis was at a strip club in 1998, but that shouldn’t really matter in the 2014 race against Sam Brownback. The Associated Press

The Kansas governor’s race is back in the national spotlight after a weekend story revealed Democratic candidate Paul Davis had visited a strip club in 1998.

But let’s face it.

What’s worse: A 26-year-old Davis going to a strip club at the invitation of his boss who was the club’s attorney?

Or a 58-year-old governor in Sam Brownback who is leading the state into potential financial ruin?

I’d go with the latter, easily.

Reporting of the Davis incident certainly caught the eye of Republicans. They are hoping that their struggling incumbent can make a comeback — Brownback is down in most polls — and get re-elected in November.

Kansas GOP Executive Director Clay Barker gleefully hopped into the fray, saying the 16-year-old incident “demonstrates a total lack of judgment and is the kind of behavior that Kansans will find totally unacceptable in someone who wants to be governor.”

No it doesn’t.

First, Davis was not arrested or charged with any crime. And for more than a decade, Davis has served capably in the Legislature and most recently was House Minority leader.

Second — and more importantly for Kansans — they already have a governor who has demonstrated a “total lack of judgment” in putting in place costly tax cuts that are undermining the state economy.

Those Brownback-supported tax cuts stripped an extra $300 million from income tax revenues in the most recent fiscal year.

And the Kansas Legislative Research Department has produced figures showing up to $1.2 billion may have to be cut from the state budget in the future, if spending and revenues come in as expected.

The state by law can’t go into debt, so the only solutions would be reductions of basic Kansas services or tax increases that Brownback claims to hate.

The income tax cuts are so destructive to the revenue side of the equation.

In fact, the state’s healthy $700-million-plus balance was drained this year when total revenues came in $338 million under estimates.

And the rest of the remaining state balance of less than $400 million could be wiped out in this fiscal year.

Why? Because the Republican-controlled Legislature approved a budget that already calls for spending about $300 million more than the state is expected to reap.

It gets worse: That $300 million anticipated hole in the budget might grow even bigger if revenue estimates are off again, and receipts come in tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars under expectations.

Kansas is reeling from the tax-cut “experiment” of Sam Brownback and the GOP’s Legislature. That’s a far more pertinent matter for voters than a 16-year-old strip club incident involving Paul Davis.

To reach editorial page columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.